Super User

Super User

Thursday, 22 February 2018 12:37


The Bighorn River Lodge has been described by our guests as “a gourmet restaurant disguised as a fishing lodge.”  Guests can expect hearty Montana-style breakfasts, delicious handmade boat lunches, and savory home cooked dinners that are beyond compare.  A typical dinner might include your choice of Merlot Glazed Beef Short Ribs or Cornmeal Crusted Walleye with Lemon Caper sauce, served with Garlic Roasted Mashed Potatoes and Bacon wrapped Asparagus.  It is truly exquisite cuisine, prepared from scratch every day.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018 18:30

Bighorn Location

Bighorn River Lodge

301 Bighorn River Lodge Loop

St. Xavier, MT 59075


Monday, 02 October 2017 19:00

About Us

DarrellandDee burntEdIn April of 2007, Dee and Darrell Rolph along with their son Cody bought the Bighorn River Lodge from the previous owners and founders, Phil and Patty Gonzalez. With a lifelong shared passion for fly fishing, they had a vision to renovate the existing lodge and create a location where they as well as others could enjoy the world class fishing of the Bighorn River.

LodgeWith a lot of hard work from them, Cody and a dedicated staff, the Bighorn River Lodge has become THE premier lodge on the Bighorn River.  


RickandCheryl burntEdThe lodge welcomed Rick and Cheryl Gehweiler to the team as general managers in the summer of 2012. Their backgrounds in property management, the hospitality industry, and guiding brought a fresh outlook to the lodge dynamics. Avid fly fishermen, they have spent much of their free time fishing the Northwest, parts of the Bahamas and the Yucatan. Rick and Cheryl have been fishing the Bighorn each summer for almost 20 years prior to their employment at the Bighorn River Lodge. Their friendly attitudes, attention to detail, and fishing expertise will ensure that every guest has the experience of a lifetime.

Guide Staff

The Bighorn River Lodge has an exceptional guides staff and while we are probably a bit prejudiced we feel we have the best guides on the river. Intimate knowledge of the river and the ecosystem, the ability to teach, strong people skills, and maintaining a high degree of professionalism are the attributes that each and every one of our guides possess. Meet some of our top guides.

MattClausen burntEdMatt Clawson, the Fishing Outfitter for the Bighorn River Lodge, started fly fishing the Bighorn over 25 years ago. After receiving a degree in business management from the University of Montana, Matt embraced his passions and entered the world as a professional fly fishing guide. The Clawson family has been farming, hunting and fishing the Bighorn Valley for three generations. His intimate knowledge of the river, its history, and its ecosystem is just one of the reasons Matt is so highly regarded amongst the guides and local stewards of the river. His extreme devotion to the art of fly fishing along with his diligent work ethic ensures that every client will have the best possible fishing experience the river can provide.

MattErnst burntEdMatt Ernst, born and raised in Montana, has been guiding the Stillwater, Madison and Bighorn for over 12 years. Matt graduated from University of Nebraska with a degree in Fishery and Wildlife Management. Like most of our guides Matt started hunting and fishing at an early age. Matt’s easy manner and affable personality makes him a favorite for many of our annual returning guests. You will learn a lot about the river and fishing in general when you spend a day with Matt.

DelDespain burntEdDel Despain, also a native Montanan, has been a professional guide for over 19 years. A graduate of the University of Utah, Del like most of our guides, grew up fishing and his love of guiding has taken him to virtually every river in Montana as well as a few in Brazil and New Zealand. Del has traveled extensively over the years both guiding and fishing on his own and as a result brings a world class perspective to fishing as well of a wealth of great stories to go along with a great day of fishing.

RonFord burntEdRon Ford, another Montana native has been guiding the Yellowstone, Stillwater and Bighorn for over 9 years. Ron started fly fishing at 8 and has been devoted to the sport ever since.  Ron, like both the Matts possess a captain’s license which is required to guide in a jet boat on either the Bighorn Lake or the river. This versatility as a great asset for the lodge clients who may wish to broaden their options during their stay with us. In the winter Ron is the Ski Patrol director in Red Lodge Montana. There is a term we all use when someone is just especially good at finding and catching fish. Ron is one of those uncanny “fishy” guys. There are a lot of skills that are required to being a good guide, but in addition to those some guys just have a sixth sense for the little nuances that make all the difference.  

Lodge Staff

I guess technically we are all staff but in reality, we are a family and a great team that works so very well together.

ShawnSmith burntEdChef Shawn Smith grew up in Easton, Connecticut where he started cooking at a young age. While attending the University of Utah, he realized that cooking was his passion. He then enrolled at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, California. Upon graduation, he returned to Utah as chef de cuisine at Wild Grape Bistro and was later recruited to assist in the opening of the Michelin Starred Spruce restaurant in Park City, Utah. Following a stint in Bend, Oregon, Shawn’s love of the outdoors and fly-fishing led him to the Bighorn River Lodge in Fort Smith, where he has been for four seasons.Shawn has brought a whole new dimension to the Bighorn River Lodge Experience with his creative and innovative approach to both the menu selections and his incredible fusion of flavors. As one client aptly put it “this is a five-star restaurant disguised as a fishing lodge”.

DaveSmith burntEdDave Smith our Sous Chef is Shawn’s brother who he brought out from Connecticut to help build our superb kitchen staff. Dave had been cooking in a variety of restaurants for 5 years before joining the staff here three years ago. Dave is a terrific addition to the staff and as his skills and techniques have grown under his brother’s guidance Dave has developed into an excellent Sous Chef.

Beth, Julia and Margarita,

No staff is complete without those who labor tirelessly behind the scenes. 

BethFord burntEdBeth Ford is the wife of our guide Ron Ford and has been a great addition to the staff this year doing breakfasts, preparing river lunches, and helping with housekeeping chores when necessary. Hard working and easy to be around she has fit in perfectly with the rest of the staff.

JuliaRamiriez burntEdJulia Rameriez has been working at the lodge for more than 8 years, primarily in the kitchen for breakfast and dinner shifts as well as helping her mother Margarita with housekeeping chores when necessary. Efficient with a keen eye to detail (I am sure she learned that from her mother Margarita) Julia’s ever present smile and pleasant nature is a welcome sight each morning where she provides a delicious breakfast to a full house with deceptive ease. 

Margareta RameriezMargareta Rameriez is head of housekeeping and there is no one on the planet better than Margarita. She has run the show here for 10 years and her tireless work ethic and meticulous attention to detail is absolutely responsible for all the wonderful comments we receive from our guests as to the quality and comfort of the lodge.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017 19:00

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Monday, 15 May 2017 19:00


Located on the Banks of the Bighorn

sleep horizontalOriginating in Wyoming, the world-famous Bighorn River flows right through the heart of the Crow Reservation in southeastern Montana. It is on these banks that the Bighorn River Lodge can be found. This small, intimate, Western lodge, celebrated for its guides and food, is surrounded by only river wetlands, agricultural fields and an occasional herd of cattle. Boasting incredible river frontage and breath-taking scenery, guest often marvel at not only the feeling of exclusivity, but at the abundance of life this Missouri River tributary holds.

  • Located off of 13 Mile Assess between St Xavier and Fort Smith
  • Short walk from our exclusive river access and the Lodge
  • 8-acre stocked fishing pond
  • 1hr 15 min form Billings International Airport,
  • 1hr 10 min north of Sheridan, Wyoming

Family-Friendly Atmosphere

With its log-cabin style construction, antler-accents, and manicured lawns, the Bighorn River Lodge is known as a warm and inviting destination complemented only by Montana’s open spaces and Big Sky charm. Whether greeted by the Lodge’s friendly dog or a helpful team member, the Lodge’s casual atmosphere is immediately felt. Once settled in, guests may choose to interact with the chef as he prepares one of his many culinary creations or enjoy an appetizer in the family-style great room decorated with western art. For all of its excellence and consideration in design, the interior falls short of its surrounding beauty. So pour yourself a drink and enjoy one of Montana’s incredible sunsets over the Bighorn Mountains from our spacious deck or try your hand at fishing one of our two private, stocked ponds. The Bighorn River Lodge perfectly embodies the honest and welcoming attitude for which the west is known.

  • Open kitchen with flexible seating
  • Spacious south-facing deck overlooking the Bighorn Mountain Range
  • Great room with fireplace and poker table
  • Manicured landscaping with a walking trail around the property
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First Class Resort with Excellent Accommodations

lodge-verticalThe accommodations at the Bighorn River Lodge are a wealth of meticulously considered details working together to influence and enrich the totality of one’s lodge experience. With an emphasis on group dynamics the lodge specializes in parties numbering twelve or less (we can easily accommodate up to 16). From its open kitchen designed to facilitate interactions with the chef to its flexible harvest table seating that overlooks the Bighorn River, meal times are the place to celebrate the day’s adventures. The great room, with its custom wet bar, river stone fireplace, flat screen TV and poker table, makes the perfect place to relax and enjoy smaller group settings. Or soak up the last bit of evening in one of our custom barnwood rocking chairs. With 500-count linen sheets and private baths, our simple but comfortable bedrooms are the ideal way to end your day.

  • 5 bedrooms in the Main Lodge
  • 3 bedrooms in the Caddis Cabin
  • Two beds and a private bathroom per bedroom
  • Pro Shop that sells fly-fishing gear and souvenirs
  • State of the art conference room that can hold 24 participants

Western Hospitality

Whether you desire to share your passion for fly fishing with family, friends or corporate clients, the staff at the Bighorn River Lodge prides itself on catering to groups of all kinds. With comfortable accommodations, Western style amenities, gourmet cuisine, and professional guides, clients can be assured that all aspects of their trip will be handled with excellence. The Bighorn River Lodge’s experienced and on-site management and staff are dedicated to the art of hospitality and specialize in accommodating the needs of our guests.


Monday, 15 May 2017 19:00


Montana’s Best Fly Fishing Destination

fish horizontalMontana’s Bighorn River is considered by many to be the best blue ribbon trout fishery in the United States. With the completion of Yellowtail Dam in 1967, the Bighorn River has become a clear, cool tail-water hosting between 5,000-6,000 rainbow and brown trout per mile. The average trout caught on the Bighorn ranges from fourteen to twenty inches. With controlled water flows and over twenty-six miles of fishable river, guests are often surprised by the abundance and size of trout caught each day. Fly fishing the Bighorn River is a truly unforgettable experience.

  • 26+ miles of diverse waters and fish habitat
  • 5,000-6,000 strong and healthy trout per mile
  • controlled water flows through serene undeveloped agricultural valley

We are Only as Good as Our Guides

Bighorn River Lodge prides itself on proving our guests with the opportunity to be assisted by highly professional and seasoned guides. Not only is our lodge a top fishing destination, we attract some of the most talented guides in the industry. These men are devoted to their craft and typically spend over one hundred days on the river each year. Whether you are a beginner who is casting a fly rod for the first time or a world-travelled fly fisherman, our guides will adapt to your needs and requests to ensure your time on the water is the best Montana fly fishing experience possible. Our guides:

  • display excellent people skills with the ability to adapt to our client’s individual talent levels.
  • are extremely knowledgable of the fishery, averaging between ten and twenty years of experience and are gifted instructors.
  • take pride in their profession by being well organized, punctual and hard-working.
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Nymph, Dry Fly and Streamer Fishing

fish vertical2The Bighorn River is well known for both its great nymph fishing and its incredible seasonal hatches. Whether you are a dry-fly purist that enjoys the thrill of hooking a big fish out of an active pod of feeding heads or a greenhorn that is learning the art of “setting the hook” for the first time, opportunities abound. For those who enjoy the art of casting a fly rod, streamer fishing can be a highly interactive experience. As seasons and water flows vary, fish adapt to their changing food supply; it is our guides’ passion to adapt their techniques to these shifting patterns and your expectations.

  • highly consistent nymph fishing provides great opportunities for beginners
  • spectacular seasonal dry fly fishing
  • great late summer/early fall streamer and hopper fishing
  • trout display strong, aggressive, and diverse feeding tendencies

River Access and Fishing Opportunities

With limited access points and yet the freedom to walk the river bottom, the anglers at Bighorn River Lodge have the best of both worlds. We use drift boats to navigate and fish the river while allowing for the opportunity to stop and wade fish areas that have proven to hold a large number of feeding trout. The Bighorn River Lodge’s ideal location allows for angles to have maximum time on the river with your day concluding right at the Lodge itself.

  • easy access to the river with great wading opportunities
  • peaceful current allow for gentle drift-boat fishing
  • fisherman friendly to all levels of physical ability


Our small fly shop offers fly fishing necessities and outdoor clothing. We are proud to offer high quality rods and reels available for purchase in the shop. Rental rods and waders are also available for a nominal fee.

Friday, 05 May 2017 10:24


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